New Zealand’s men’s national league returned from the Christmas break during the weekend, while various Kiwis abroad have been busy on the pitch during the festive season.

Defending champions Auckland City FC moved to the top of the ISPS Handa Men’s Premiership after they beat long-time rivals Waitakere United 3-0 in the Super City derby at Seddon Field on Sunday.

Team Wellington, who trail Auckland City on only goal difference, were held to a 1-1 draw by the Hamilton Wanderers during Matchweek 7 and the solitary point left Hamilton in third place.

“Going into the game we were pretty refreshed, but then on Thursday and Saturday we had a couple of injuries, so some players came out [of] the squad, but you kind of expect that with a break and with players having more than 10, 11 days off – it’s always difficult when you come back,” Team Wellington coach Scott Hales said.

Auckland City and Team Wellington have 13 competition points with Hamilton on 12, while Eastern Suburbs AFC are on 11 after going down 2-1 to Hawke’s Bay United at home on Sunday.

The win was only Hawke’s Bay’s second of the season, but they remain in last place on the ladder given seventh-placed Waitakere have a better goal difference.

In the other fixture from Matchweek 7, the Wellington Phoenix Reserves drew 1-1 with Canterbury United. Find more info about the weekend’s results here.

Kiwis abroad

Meanwhile, a host of top Kiwi men’s and women’s players are in action in the A-League and W-League in Australia.

COVID-19 has caused some delays and postponements at the start of the A-League season but a handful of matches have already been played.

All Whites veteran Kosta Barbarouses will be part of Sydney FC’s title defence, while Marco Rojas, Storm Roux and goalkeeper Max Crocombe are all on the books at Melbourne Victory.

Jai Ingham will turn out for the Brisbane Roar this year, while his brother Dane will play for the Perth Glory.

And, of course, the Wellington Phoenix are loaded with New Zealand internationals, including Alex Rufer, Stefan Marinovic, Tim Payne, Clayton Lewis, Matt Ridenton, James McGarry, Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi, Louis Fenton and Ben Waine.

The Phoenix will be based in Wollongong to start the season and they have opened their campaign with a loss and a draw.

In the W-League, Football Fern Olivia Chance is playing for the Brisbane Roar who have begun their season with three draws from as many matches.

Fern Paige Satchell is suiting up for the unbeaten Canberra United who have registered two wins and a draw to start their campaign.

The nine-team league also features the Perth Glory that have a trio of Kiwi women’s players in the form of Lily Alfeld, Lizzie Anton and Malia Steinmetz.

Football Ferns Annalie Longo and Claudia Bunge will play for the Melbourne Victory.

Longo recently tasted domestic success in New Zealand as part of the Canterbury United Pride squad that won the 2020 ISPS Handa Women’s Premiership.

Further afield, All Whites midfielder Ryan Thomas returned from injury on Monday (NZT) when he came off the bench for PSV Eindhoven in their 2-2 draw with Ajax.

PSV are in second place in Holland’s top league, known as the Eredivisie, and after 15 rounds they’re only one point back from Ajax.

Fijian striker Roy Krishna has been in good form for Indian Super League club ATK Mohun Bagan.

The 33-year-old has six goals to his credit this season and his side sit second on the ladder at the halfway point of the campaign.

ATK Mohuna Bagan went down 1-0 to the league-leading Mumbai City overnight but Krishna scored last week during his team’s 2-0 win over NorthEast United FC.

In the Solomon Islands, the S-League is due to return on January 23 following a dispute regarding the use of Lawson Tama Stadium.

The Henderson Eels are at the top of the league on 34 points, nine clear of the Solomon Warriors.